Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Baking - Day 4.

It is Day Four of Rosie's Christmas Baking Marathon.
 And just what did she make today?
 Well, sit back, have a glass of wine,
 relax, and get vicariously exhausted right along with me.
 I made four different goodies today:
Toffee Bars
White Christmas Fudge Mocha Toffee
 Cashew Bars
Coconut Macaroons

First, let's start with the Toffee Bars.
Here are my ingredients:
 2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1 1/4 cups Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
 Whenever possible, I try to substitute
 the cheaper Food Lion brands
 for name brands to save money.
 One time, I tried Food Lion's chocolate chips,
 instead of Nestle's Toll House chips,
and ... big mistake.
 Nowhere near close to the flavor.
 So don't bother.
Go with Nestle's.
First, I creamed the butter, then added in the brown sugar.
Egg yolk and vanilla went in next.
I mixed the flour in.
And finally stirred in half the walnuts.
Spread evenly into a buttered 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes,
 or until nicely browned.
Immediately, sprinkle chocolate chips over top.
Let chips melt for about 2-3 minutes, then spread chocolate over surface.
Sprinkle with remaining walnuts, and let cool before cutting.
And here are my Toffee Bars.
And yes, they are delicious.
White Christmas Fudge, next.
 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup milk
 1/4 cup butter
12 ounces white chocolate
 1/2 teaspoon almond extracy
 3/4 cup dried cranberries
(I used a mixture of original Craisins and cherry-flavored Craisins.)
3/4 cup toasted almond slices
Coarsely chop the white chocolate.
Mix the powdered sugar and the milk in a heavy saucepan.
Stir to combine, then add butter
and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Boil for 5 minutes without stirring.
Reduce heat to low and add in chocolate.
And add in almond extract.
Stir, then whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
Stir in Craisins, or dried cranberries, or dried cherries.
Add in the toasted almonds.
Pour into an 8-inch square pan, lined with greased foil.
Press fudge evenly, using plastic wrap.
Spread fudge evenly.
 Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm.
 Then peel off foil and cut into one inch squares.
And here's my White Christmas Fudge.

 Number 3 confection: Mocha Toffee Cashew Bars
The ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
 1 cup packed brown sugar
 1 large egg yolk
 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
 3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
 dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
 (I used 3 TB of whatever coffee beans (ground) I had.)
 2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup toasted cashews
I creamed the butter and brown sugar
at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Added in the yolk.
The vanilla.
And gradually added in the coffee mixture.
This is smelling really good about now.
Added in the salt and the flour, gradually.
Turned batter onto an ungreased 10 1/2 x 15 1/2 baking pan.
I spread batter evenly and baked in a preheated 350 degree oven
for about 18 minutes until the batter got puffy
and the sides pulled away from the edge of pan.
While the base is baking, melt the bittersweet chocolate.
 Spread the chocolate over the warm, cooked base.
And immediately sprinkle with the toasted cashews.
Press the cashews into the warm chocolate.
Mocha Toffee Cashew Bars.
I love the coffee flavor in these little bars.

 And finally, Number Four Goodie, Coconut Macaroons.
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
 1 14-ounce package sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
 (When your egg whites are at room temperature,
they beat up to a bigger volume. Always have egg whites at room temp.
On the contrary, when you're whipping cream,
 have the cream, bowl, and beaters COLD.)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.
Mix well together.
Whup up the egg whites until you have medium-firm peaks.
Carefully fold the whites into the coconut mixture.
Drop coconut balls onto parchment-lined pans.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes,
 or until the macaroons are a lovely golden brown.
Ahhh ... Macaroons.
 And that is everything I made today.
I've cleaned up the kitchen and I'm ready for bed
 and to start all over tomorrow.
 Too bad most of you folks aren't my neighbors.
 Else I'd be knocking on your door Christmas Eve,
 with a big honking goodie basket.

 Oh, were you worried about Rosie
keeping up her strength while baking all day?
 Not to worry. Mr. Hawthorne prepared lunch for us:
Freshly shucked, fried oysters with remoulade sauce and malt vinegar.
 (And no, I didn't do no damn shuckin'.)
 Leftover turnips and turnip greens.
 Leftover shrimp stir fry from the other night.
 Leftover carrot matchsticks and dill from Thanksgiving.
We have the best freakin' leftovers.